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Friday, December 02, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 37 - The Jazz Player

Hello, everybody!  This is not only the 37th episode review for the cartoon series, Jem, but it's also Day #2 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!

Last week, we watched Jem and the Holograms thwart the plans of a magician who wanted to take over a show.  I wonder what will be in store this week?

Let's find out in Episode 37: The Jazz Player!

It's nighttime at Starlight Mansion, and you know what that means!  Lindsey Pearce's video show is on.  And as a bit of a switch, Lindsey has decided to invite the leader of a popular jazz band of the 1940s, Taps Tucker, for an interview and a performance.  Most of the girls in the room are thrilled to watch the show, but Kimber feels as though it's too old-fashioned.  Kimber, have you learned nothing from the Bobby Bailey thing?  Sheesh?

However, after 40 years, Taps Tucker still has it.  He plays his lucky trumpet - the one he never leaves home without, and plays a fantastic jazz solo.  It's enough to make Kimber eat her words and the rest of the Starlight girls to become mesmerized by the sweet sound.  Unfortunately, that performance is interrupted by four rude women who think that jazz is out and they are in.  Can you guess who they might be?

Ah, yes.  The Misfits.  Ironically, they're playing the same song that they played when they were trying to evict Bobby Bailey from his home!  And once again, I'll state that if they were singing about an ex-boyfriend, "Jack, Take a Hike" would be a killer tune.  Used in this context, it's tasteless and rude.

Lindsey seems to agree with my perspective, telling the Misfits that they've once again blown the chance to be interviewed on her show, and that's enough for Jerrica to shut the television off in disgust.  However, the Holograms come up with a brilliant idea.  Since Taps Tucker still sounds great, why not reunite the old band together for one more album.  After all, Shana makes the remark that jazz was making a comeback in the late 1980s (something that was actually true at the time), and it might be a great surprise to bring Taps Tucker back with his band for one more jam session.

But when Jem and the Holograms track down Taps Tucker, they find that his life isn't really all that fantastic.  He's living in a crummy old apartment with holes in the walls and dingy furniture.  Which to me, I call shenanigans on, because you'd think that he would at least get some royalties from his songs.  He must have not had a great record company backing him.  At first, Taps isn't sure he wants to go ahead with the reunion mainly because it's been 40 years since they were last together.  But Jem can be quite the persistent devil and tells him that she knows a man who owns a jazz recording label and that if he agrees to reunite the band for a comeback album, it might change his fortunes around.  Eventually, Taps accepts Jem's offer, and Jem gives Mark Rockwell a call.

As it so happens, Jem calls right in the middle of a business deal between Mark and Eric Raymond, who is making his own pitch for a jazz record collection.  It seems as though Eric has been working on this pitch for a while, so naturally he'd be upset that Jem is trying to butt in.  Mark explains that he only has enough resources to support one project, so he makes Jem a deal.  If they can get the Taps Tucker Band together in 24 hours time, he'll go with them.  Should they fail, Eric will get the deal.  That's not a whole lot of time for Jem to work.  It seems slightly unfair - but keep in mind that Eric did get to Mark first.

Of course, Eric and the Misfits aren't worried.  They plan to use Techrat to find out where each of the members of the band are so they can make them disappear.  Nice, hacking into the database system to locate people.  I'm pretty sure that's a crime.

But I guess Jem and the Holograms don't seem to worry about getting arrested either because they make Synergy do the same exact thing!  I'm thinking that there really should have been an episode where Techrat tries to hack into Synergy.  That would have been epic.  But instead, we get the addresses and workplaces of the three members of the Taps Tucker Band.  Ace O'Toole, the saxophonist, isn't too far away.  He lives in a small place called Duke's Landing, so Jem sends Shana out to retrieve him.  Bassist Dave Wilson is in Houston, Texas, so she books a flight for Kimber to retrieve him.  And Aja's going to Seattle, Washington to meet up with Joey London, the drummer of the band.

But as the girls are prepared to leave for their respective destinations, Ba Nee arrives with the telephone.  Taps Tucker is on the line and he has bad news.  Someone broke into his apartment and stole his trumpet!  Gee, I wonder who was responsible for that?  Whatever the case, Jem decides to stay in town to locate Taps' horn, and she keeps Raya with her in case she needs back up.

Now, flying out to these locations is one thing, but the hard part is convincing the band members that a reunion would be fun.  But in Aja's case, she needs not try too hard because Joey gives her an emphatic yes!  Seems as though Joey's life has gone downhill and he owes a lot of money to a lot of loan sharks.  The reunion could be what he needs to pay back the money he owes.

But Eric's already sent the Misfits out to wreak havoc...and Stormer is busy sabotaging Aja's car so that they'll be stranded.  But Stormer also notices a couple of creepy men entering the apartment and wonders what's going on.

You know those loan sharks that Joey owed money to?  They're here to collect.  Fortunately, Aja kicks them both in the no-no spot and it allows her and Joey to escape.  But with Stormer sabotaging the car, they're forced to hide in Seattle's underground city to avoid getting caught.  This doesn't look good for Aja and Joey.

Over at Duke's Landing, Shana is surprised to learn that Ace O'Toole has done very well for himself and is legitimately happy in what he's doing.  He's opened up a bar in the tiny coastal town and his pride is his boat which he takes out every day.  He's so happy that he doesn't feel the need to reunite with his old band, and tells Shana this to her disappointment.  But Shana does agree to go out on a tour in his boat, hoping that she can somehow convince Ace to change his mind.

Roxy and Jetta are upset that they went there for nothing, but they decide that while they're in town, they'll empty out the fuel in his boat and disable radio communications.  What harm could come from that?

Well, when Ace and Shana are out on the boat, they are unable to hear the storm warnings, and soon both of them find themselves in the middle of what could be called a mini-hurricane!  Boy, those Misfits know how to cause trouble!

In Houston, Kimber meets up with Dave Wilson at the Astrodome, where he cleans the stadium after every game or concert.  Not surprisingly, Dave decides that ANYTHING would be better than cleaning the hundreds of toilets at the Astrodome, and he happily accepts Kimber's invitation to reunite with his old band.  

But before they can leave, they discover that every single door is locked and it doesn't take a genius to figure out how that happened, as Pizzazz appears on the jumbotron to let them know that they are trapped like rats.

And in this edition of Jem Trivia, I'll let you know that this is only one of TWO episodes that features two songs by the Misfits (the other one was the very first episode).  I do have to admit that "Trapped" is a great song...but I question how all four Misfits could appear at the same time when they're scattered all over the place.  They must have stolen a copy of their video when they were thrown off Lindsey's show.  And with Techrat tagging along with Pizzazz, we know how they assumed control of the electrical panels.

Back in Duke's Landing, the storm is violently shaking the boat, and it causes Ace to fly over the side!  Fortunately, Shana is a strong swimmer, and swims out to save Ace's life.  She seems to have enough strength to drag Ace back to the boat.  If this isn't enough for Ace to change his mind about going back to the reunion, he must have a heart of stone.

The loan sharks have Aja and Joey surrounded, and they appear ready to turn both of them into hamburger.  But Stormer's in the area too, and she is feeling might guilty for her role that she played.  She just wanted to keep them from coming back in time, but she never wanted them to get hurt.  So she causes a distraction by breaking a window in the opposite direction which causes the loan sharks to flee.  This gives Aja and Joey time to catch a cab and get to the airport.  Stormer looks on, knowing that Eric will give her a hard time...but in the end, her good side won out.  Nicely played, Stormer.

And in Houston, Dave seems to have an idea as to how they can get out as well.  It's true that all the doors are sealed with electric locks...but if they can cut off the power, then maybe the doors will open back up.  Dave finds the circuit breaker, shuts it off, and the whole place goes dark.  Techrat and Pizzazz are left confused wondering what was going on, while Dave and Kimber make their great escape!

Back home, Jem and Raya are with Taps trying to figure out who would steal Taps' horn.  Jem seems to have the idea that the other person who was trying to get the deal with Mark might have tried to sabotage the reunion on purpose, so she gives Mark a call to find out who the other person is.  When Mark tells her that Eric Raymond is the second party, Jem and Raya quickly deduce that Eric stole Taps' horn.  Well, d-uh!!!

Of course, Jem and Raya can't very well go into Misfits Music and ask Eric for the horn back, so they need to resort to some trickery.  They have Synergy disguise them as exterminators, and they tell Eric that the building is infested with termites and that he needs to leave the office immediately.  Of course, Eric tells them to bug off, but Raya does a fantastic job yelling at him and making him feel guilty until he agrees to leave.

Once he's gone, Jem and Raya look around the office and discover that Eric has Taps' horn stashed away in a cupboard.  But as soon as they grab the horn and put it in their bag, Eric returns and accuses the exterminators of stealing from him!  Well if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black!  

Jem quickly manages to create a hologram of Taps' horn to fool Eric and Raya can't resist yelling at Eric again for his false accusation!  But Jem reminds Raya that as soon as they leave, the hologram of the horn will disappear, so they need to get out fast!

Sure enough, the hologram of the horn vanishes, and a furious Eric runs out into the hallway to try and catch the thieves.  He passes by a couple of weird looking potted plants that seem to be completely out of place in his search.  

Oh, that's because those plants are really Jem and Raya.  Synergy's disguises are getting better!

Jem and Raya arrive back at Taps' apartment where Kimber, Aja, Joey, and Dave have already arrived.  And while Taps is happily getting reacquainted with his former bandmates, Jem is worried that Shana and Ace haven't arrived yet.  They decide to go down to Mark's office, hoping that they will be meeting him there.

Of course, we know that Shana and Ace are stuck in the middle of the ocean.  The storm is over, but they have no way of getting back to shore.  Ace is extremely grateful to Shana for saving him, and Shana remarks that he can thank her by agreeing to the reunion.  Thankfully, the coast guard spots Ace's boat and tows them to safety.  The question is...can Ace and Shana make it back to Los Angeles in time to stop the deal between Mark and Eric from going through?  I guess it all depends on how far away Duke's Landing is from Los Angeles.

I imagine it must be somewhat far, as when four-fifths Jem and the Holograms and three-quarters of the Taps Tucker Band arrive at Mark's office, they see one whole Eric Raymond smiling with glee that not everyone is there.  Jem begs Mark to give them more time, but Mark is a man of his word, and even though he believes that the Taps Tucker Band would be a bigger draw for him, Eric legitimately did get to him first, so he has to do what he feels is right.

But before Mark can finish signing the contract, Shana and Ace arrive just in time, and the Taps Tucker Band is reunited once more!  Isn't it grand that Jem believes in happy endings?  Of course, Eric is pissed and tries to justify that Mark signed his contract...but Mark simply states that he never finished signing it, and shreds the contract that he had with Eric to pieces right in front of his smug face.  Tough luck, Eric.

Mark immediately signs the Taps Tucker Band to a new contract, and with that, the first single is released - with a very special collaboration with a very special band.

The song "Jazz Has" is a song that I kind of like.  It blends the old with the new, and it's definitely a new sound for Jem and the Holograms, but Britta Phillips' voice is the main attraction of this single.

And to thank Jem for all her hard work, Taps Tucker reveals that he's going to dedicate their comeback album to all of the Holograms.  How nice!

I have to admit, I love this episode.  And in a way, it's a nice episode for the Christmas season.  After all, isn't bringing back family and friends for a celebration what the holidays are really all about?  Of course, there's no Christmas lights or egg nog in this episode, but it's still a nice one.

Coming up next week, the Holograms are filming a video for a contest hosted by Xanthos about goodwill and friendship.  But when one of their pivotal team members gets seriously injured during the filming, can she recover in time to get the job done?

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